The Myth of Genius: Building Brands with Collaboration and Empathy

The Myth of Genius: Building Brands with Collaboration and Empathy

Derek Springston

The world of branding and advertising loves to throw around the word "genius." From headlines touting "creative masterminds" to award shows celebrating the "most brilliant campaigns," this constant focus on mythical brilliance paints a skewed picture of our industry and the brands we help build.


The truth is—only a few creatives embody the lone genius archetype. Sure, moments of inspiration strike, but the reality of building a successful brand (and, more importantly, a successful business) is far more grounded in dedication, clear communication, and a deep understanding of what makes your client tick. Here's why we should ditch the "genius" label and embrace a more honest, effort-based approach.

Great brands are never born from a single mind. They're the result of a well-oiled collaboration between strategists, account managers, designers, developers, and most importantly, the clients themselves. A team that invests time in understanding each other's perspectives and working towards a shared vision is far more likely to produce breakthrough results than a lone genius toiling away in isolation.

Building a brand goes beyond crafting a catchy slogan or a stunning package. It's about establishing a long-term relationship with your client. This means truly understanding their business goals, their target audience, and the unique challenges they face. It requires empathy, strong listening skills, and a willingness to dive deep into the client's world.

The "genius" label paints success as a stroke of luck or a flash of brilliance. But building a successful brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes dedication, constant refinement, and the ability to adapt based on data and feedback. It's about putting in the hours, day in and day out, to ensure your brand message resonates.

The "yes, yes, yes…wait, no actually I hate this" moments.

From the agency perspective, this constant glorification of the "genius" ideal can be discouraging for young creatives. It sets them up for disappointment by focusing on the elusive moment of inspiration rather than the often unglamorous process of brand building. The constant trial and error. The "yes, yes, yes…wait, no actually I hate this" moments. This can lead to frustration and a sense of inadequacy.

So, what should we celebrate instead? Let's celebrate the skills that truly drive brand success. We should celebrate the collaborative spirit—a strong team dynamic built on open communication and mutual respect. And, let's celebrate putting the client first, truly understanding their needs, and supporting a strong working relationship based on mutual trust.

The reality is, success in branding and advertising rarely happens overnight. Let's focus on effort, collaboration, and a client-centric approach. Together, we can build brands that stand out and deliver long-term value. Let's celebrate the dedication, the strategic thinking, and the hard work that goes into crafting a truly successful brand. It's a story far more inspiring and achievable than the myth of the lone "genius."